I’m still here.

The first time I hit the pavement after a long sabbatical from exercise, hurts. My legs feel heavy. My lungs labor. My head like I’m floating in a cloud.

This feels the same. Writing after not for so long. Occupied with joyous life of raising my newborn, I fell silent. And then I started feeling that’s how I should stay. That it is safer to just observe, not make any ripples of my own.

Staying on the couch, after months of not moving, sounds like the best thing. But we all know that while the couch might be a nice place, it’s lacking a lot of greatness. There is so much more to be explored, and loved, and lost And so, here I am. Finding my voice once again. Trusting that here too there is so much more to be explored, and loved, and lost.



Hugs and Kisses.


Having worked with kids, having friends with kids, being an auntie, and now having a child of my own, I think a lot about what my actions and words are communicating to the little people in my life.  Are my words and actions communicating what I want to communicate?

One thing I want to communicate is how to make healthy boundaries. How to respect themselves and others, and that it is their responsibility to do so. But they also need to learn how to do that. To learn what it means to love and be loved.

Having friends and family afar, I have thought a lot about how I relate to the children who I know and love [through videos, pictures, and stories] but who know me no better than a stranger on the street–okay, some know me a bit better than that. When kids are so young, it’s just too much to comprehend the significance of someone who isn’t in their daily life. My excitement when seeing these babes may not be shared. I may want to smother them with hugs and kisses, but they may need to feel me out for a bit. Hugs and kisses is one place we can start teaching kiddos boundaries. While we may require that they greet everyone with a smile and “hello,” I want to give them the choice of whether or not to give a hug. Though this is a seemingly small boundary, the implications could be monumental. This article beautifully addresses what we are communicating by our expectations of our little ones.

I can’t wait to see all my favorite kiddos this Christmas. Hopefully I get some hugs and snuggles.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you get to enjoy the little ones in your life.


Winter has arrived and it is cold. I am gearing up for some long months ahead– cold and more cold. What I’ve come up with so far…

I am currently baking cookies–these are delicious– and listening to the podcast Serial. A journalist is investigating an old case to see if they got the facts right the first time. I can’t stop listening. Here’s the premise:

On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

I am going to attempt to reupholster a wingback chair [fine by me if it takes all winter], and I’ve already sewed some Christmas stockings from thrift-store sweaters.

One thing I love about books, movies, and art of all sorts, is how it brings you into a world you’ve never imagined. You see new perspectives and understand new realities. I’ve recently discovered AOL.com originals . They are well done and fascinating. I have been watching the City Ballet and am fascinated by what a dancers life looks like. Going to the New York City Ballet is now on my bucket list- (and now I have a bucket list).

Have you seen the documentary about tiny homes? I’m all about simplicity–or at least I want to be– and living in small quarters forces your hand to do so. I love how these small homes require so much intentionality with space, and therefore calls their homeowners into intentional living on a larger scale. I don’t think we will be moving into a trailer-tiny home, but this was inspiration to live intentionally in how we use our space, treat our environment, and spend our time. As I read this book, I plan to purge and simplify once more.

I am also planning to be reading a bit more. I have been loving Jojo Moyes‘ work, and am excited about a few new nonfiction books waiting in the wings. The Calvary Road is somewhat life changing and I have found myself still on chapter three, having reread chapters one and two a couple times now. Making sure it all sinks in.


Any other winter survival recommendations?

This little guy makes any windy day look a whole lot better.


Roads and Rivers.

Thus says the LORD, who makes a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters…Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43: 16 & 19

Simon is our sweet river through the desert of losing our baby over a year ago. Beyond grateful for a God who is abundant in peace, hope, grace, and love.




I am not a hashtag user. At first I didn’t know what it was… now its kinda of out of principal. Silly, I know.

And then there came Kidpost. It’s a way to share pictures I post on social media, with family and friends who aren’t connected on Instagram or Facebook. I linked up my Instagram and Facebook with my Kidpost account. Kidpost then sends an email at the end of the day, of the pictures I have tagged with #kidpost, to whoever is subscribed. Grandmas, Grandpas, great grandmas and grandpas, and the anti-social-media-uncle don’t miss out on the photo updates of our little man. They are simple, fun to get (or so I’ve heard), and such an easy way to keep other family members in the loop without uploading a million pictures and emailing them out to everyone. And, they can link multiple accounts… so hubber dubbers and I can post individually and have them sent in the same email. Below is a sample email…


the books.

Although my authority on what works is limited, having only delivered once and been mama for three weeks, these were some of my favorite reads on the matter. You should know 1. We didn’t do any classes… so these [and the hubber dubbers in his OB rotation] are where I got any and all of my knowledge, and 2. I’m not into formulas… I don’t believe life is a formula, and kids aren’t a formula…so if something was telling me this is the only way/best way you should do something, I kicked it to the curb. We don’t need any of that. It leaves too much room for judgement and shaming in a part of life [parenting] that needs all the support and encouragement that can be thrown at it.

So, to me, these books are freeing, empowering, and enlightening. I came away from each feeling more capable and competent to be the parent I am called to be.


Brain Rules for Baby was a gift from my sister-in-law, and should be the first one you pick up. The author is a scientist who translates evidence-based research findings into practical tips for parents. He addresses pregnancy, relationship, intelligence, happiness, and morality, and what we can and can’t do to shape them in our kids.

Bringing Up Bebe is one of my all time favorites. Hilarious account of what an American mother learns from the french as she raises her family in France. A fresh perspective on how to view the child and their capabilities.

Baby Love is like having a mom in a book. It’s a simple, gentle, and practical breakdown of all things baby… from the nursery–what you need and don’t need, sleep, what clothes you will need, how to do outings. A great reference.


The aftermath.


What a wonderful aftermath. Simon Caleb Van Essen was born at 6:46 am on Friday, August 15. He weighed 7lbs 8oz and measured 21 inches long. Daddy got to hold him for the first time after he was all weighed and measured, and the moment they locked eyes, the world disappeared.

Auntie Babs and Grammie were quick to give baby pep talks and snuggles. And not long after, Mema, Caleb’s mom, arrived to give her fair share of love and snuggles.


We headed home Saturday and were relieved to get back into the comforts of home. My mom stayed for about another week, and was amazing. A voice of encouragement, reason, and rest in the midst of such a big transition. Those first few days were filled with new joys, fears, and tears [probably due to the influx of hormones]. We are getting to know a new norm–our new family unit. We are very much in love with our son and each other. It has been an experience unlike any other. Go figure.